New Bill to Set Deadline for Voluntary Municipality Mergers ({{commentsTotal}})

Map of population centers, Harju County will be updated in December
Map of population centers, Harju County will be updated in December Source: Courtesy of the Ministry of the Interior

A draft law introduced by Regional Affairs Minister Siim Kiisler is proposing a July 30, 2014 deadline for municipalities to merge, after which the government would take charge of the process. However, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has previously ruled out any forced mergers.

According to the proposal, if the 215 local governments fail to unite with one of the around 60 population centers by the deadline, referendums will be held on the question of which municipalities to unite with, not whether to unite at all, uudised.err.ee reported today.

Those who miss the deadline will also lose out on a financial incentive that is currently on the table.

“As liberals we, the Reform Party members, back voluntary mergers. We are certainly not ready to support the forced uniting of local governments,” Ansip said two weeks ago.

Kiisler, from IRL, told Eesti Päevaleht in an interview today that he, too, supported voluntary mergers when he took office in 2008, but that he only needed half a year to see that "nothing would change" in the country's administrative structure unless pushed.